The success of a project is dependent on the existing structure of an organisation. The different roles of each member of the project can also help determine whether the endeavour will be successful in the production of the final deliverables or not. It is sufficient to say that organisational structure and project member roles are necessary to ensure a smoother flow of project activities.

Types of Organisational Structure

Organisational structure has a strong influence on how projects are managed and run. It provides the necessary framework for the successful implementation of the aims of the project. It influences the level of authority that a project manager has over the endeavour. The following are three types of organisational structure in project management.

  1. Functional

Most organisations have different divisions or units that are defined by a specific function. Each division has a head, who ultimately becomes the project manager. Unfortunately, most organisations do not give an official title to the functional manager as the project manager. In most cases, the person is recognised as the project coordinator.

A functional structure offers the following advantages.

  • Greater work efficiency
  • Better control of project resources
  • Better communication
  • Easier to generate team enthusiasm and support
  • Faster completion of the project

Functional structures do have several disadvantages.

  • Monotonous work
  • Very limited authority over other project resources that may come from other units
  • May create conflicts with other units

The nature of functional organisational structure makes it ideal for small projects and for projects that are specific to a unit or division of the company.

  • Project

An organisation that has this structure will take key persons from different functional divisions to work together on the project. A dedicated project manager gets assigned to coordinate the efforts of a multi-disciplinary team and ensure the success of the project.

The following are the advantages of a project organisational structure.

  • Well-established and very clear line of authority
  • Faster decision-making processes and approval
  • Easier and more effective communication
  • Improved professional competencies of project members
  • Team is more focused on project goals
  • Better access to available resources exclusively to the project

A project organisational structure can have the following downsides.

  • Project members may feel pressured
  • Can be an expensive endeavour
  • Project team members may find it difficult to return to their functional roles after project completion and closure

This type of organisational structure is ideal for large-scale projects. It can also be effective in small projects that require different functional expertise in the delivery of project outcomes.

  • Matrix

This type of organisational structure is a mixture of a functional and a project structure. A strong matrix structure tends to favour a project type of organisational structure. A weak matrix tends to have more of the characteristics of a functional structure. A well-balanced matrix structure allows the project manager to serve as an equal of the functional manager.

A matrix structure can be advantageous in the following ways.

  • More efficient use of resources
  • Allows for the implementation of different things
  • More responsive members and teams
  • Efficient project management methodology and lifecycle

This type of structure can have the following cons.

  • Inter-project conflicts can occur
  • Conflict can exist between project activities and business-as-usual tasks

A well-balanced matrix organisational structure is ideal for any type of project, whether it is manufacturing, construction, research, or management.

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Defining the Organisational Structure

Certain projects favour an organisational structure. For example, small-scale projects are best suited to organisations with a more functional structure. One should also consider defining the organisational structure by giving it a more detailed description. Organisations can do this through an organisational breakdown structure and a responsibility assignment matrix.

  • Organisational Breakdown Structure

This is a very useful model for describing the different elements that make up the project management organisational structure. It requires the creation of the hierarchy of the organisation and the identification of all units and project teams. This allows the organisation to organise the people who will be directly involved on a project. It also details the reporting structure.

  • Responsibility Assignment Matrix

Another piece of document that can ensure the success of a project is the Responsibility Assignment Matrix. It identifies and describes the role of each member of the project team. The document also identifies the things that each project team member is accountable for.

Organisational Roles

The responsibility assignment matrix is a good tool for identifying the different roles for each member of the project. Each member will have a corresponding role to fulfil to ensure the success of the project.

  • Project Steering Group

High-level stakeholders and representatives of the upper management comprise the steering committee of the project. They play the role of general overseers who provide direction and guidance for the strategic direction of the project. They provide leadership support and resolve the issues that the project manager escalates. The project steering group is also responsible for deciding on all requests for changes in any of the core project elements.

  • Project Manager

The principal role of a project manager is to assume responsibility for the successful completion of the undertaking. He plays the lead role in the planning, implementing, controlling, monitoring, and the closing of projects. The project manager reviews, prioritises, and manages the project objectives and resources from day to day.

  • Project Sponsor

Project sponsors ensure the success of the project by making all the necessary resources and support available to the project team. The project manager is responsible for the day-to-day success of the project. The project sponsor oversees the success of the whole project.

  • Project Team Members

These are the people that make up the different units of the organisation. Their role is to contribute to the accomplishment of the project objectives and become instrumental in the production of project deliverables.

  • Project Client

Project clients approve project plans and milestones. They can also request changes to the project or even flag risks and raise issues. Project clients are responsible for accepting the project’s final deliverables or declining it if the deliverables are not as agreed upon.

These organisational roles are invariably linked to one another. Each position has specific roles and set of responsibilities that work to support the roles and responsibilities of other members of the project team. None of these roles overlap to ensure greater efficiency in the implementation of the project.

Projects require an organisational structure that supports the lifespan of the project and its various activities. The identification of roles and responsibilities of each project team member can also ensure the success of the project.






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